Tuesday, September 1, 2015

How to be a Good BC Ski Partner

Last year there were times when I struggled to get out with other backcountry skiers. As part of the small community fast/lite skimo race crowd it can sometime be a challenge to get an even match for equipment, speed and ski ability. I began to wonder, “is it me, or am I just imagining that people are avoiding me?” I don’t know. One thing I do know is that this year I’m going to strive to be the best bc skimo ski partner possible. Here’s my personal rules to get me on this path (friends, since you’re reading this, you can keep me accountable).

1) Always be on time. Always be ready for pick up. Shoot for an early, stress free ready time.

2) Get more avalanche education. I don’t want to have to rely on the snow safety experience of others that have taken the time to take the advanced courses and are well read and consistently check bulletins, etc.  At least get educated enough to be able to wisely contribute to the evaluation discussion.

3) Shore up mountaineering skills and practice in the summer. Whether it’s an impromptu rap down a couloir cliff band, roping up for glacier travel, or conducting a cravasse rescue (hopefully never!), be the one that has the gear on board and knows how to skillfully use it.

4) Be willing to take my fair share, or more of the trail breaking.

5) In addition to #4, lead at a pace that is appropriate for the rest of the group’s fitness. I’ve been in situations where I’m not breaking a sweat, but still gapping those behind me as I break their trail. Why not dial it down a notch and keep them from fearing an outing with me.

         -the converse is true as well...make sure my fitness level is up to the standards of the group

6) Be the one toting the first aid kit, rope, etc. Some of these items we know we should bring, but often we don’t want to add extra weight. Just bring it without being asked to.

7) Don’t whine if you’re not comfortable with the objective, route etc. Simply state your concerns and be willing to let them go ahead, bless them and stay a safe distance away, observing in case they need help. As a family guy I tend to be a little more conservative than some of the 20 somethings I ski with. Sometimes it has been the other way around too though.

8) Be willing to drive and don’t expect gas money. I’ve got a nice enough 4 wheel drive truck to get us there. Not expecting pay back is simply putting some good karma into the bank.

That’s it for now. I’m sure the list can and will grow.

Thoughts on a Goal Setting Lifestyle

Each summer since my two girls began reading in grade 1 I’ve had the  “Daddy’s summer reading plan”. We set a goal of how many chapters they can read in the summer, then I reward them. Rewards have been things like going horseback riding, going to a movie, buying that special “stuffie”, etc.

This summer my youngest daughter, the strong willed one, decided to come up with her own plan. Usually at her age she gets a reward for 150 chapters, yet this summer for reasons only she really understands, she made a goal to read 5 chapters a day. She barely considered the final tally which in the past was the only consideration because it led to the reward. This summer she hit 250+ and couldn’t care less about the reward. Her internal reward far exceeded anything I could give her.

I’m pretty proud of her and it motivates me to keep a goal setting lifestyle. I read an article today comparing Navy Seals with Olympic athletes in goal setting. Here’s a couple exerts:

“The best athletes had clear daily goals. They knew what they wanted to accomplish each day, each workout, each sequence or interval. They were determined to accomplish these goals and focussed fully on doing so.”

“With goal setting the recruits were taught to set goals in extremely short chunks. For instance, one former Navy Seal discussed how he set goals such as making it to lunch, then dinner.”

“What happened when they achieved those goals? SEALs set new ones. The focus is on always improving.”

A few years ago I read a blog written by a Finnish Ironman triathlete and businessman (on the podium for his very competitive age group at Hawaii world champs). He explained with his limited time he needed to maximize his time and training. To do this he took a weightlifter’s approach. Instead of training 20-30 hours each week, digging yourself into an overtraining hole, then hoping your pre-race taper would get you out of that hole, he measured almost every workout and strove to improve each day. His weekly training hours were ½ or less than the other athletes he was competing against. 100-200m swim times were recorded, power wattage on the bike was challenged and running times were lowered. When he got to the Ironman start line, he had the confidence and the written proof that his training was working.

Training like this is not only effective, but it’s fun. It gives every workout a purpose and it motivates you to push harder and it’s incredibly rewarding when you see improvement. I put this into practice as I strove to improve my skimo downhills. One day a week I’d go to our local ski hill and train on my race skis. I timed myself down the double black diamond run, Lone Pine. As I rocketed into the lift at the bottom I’d look at my watch and note the time. Sometimes I’d let the lifty in on my protocol and they’d ask me each run how I did. This accountability fueled more passion into the workout.

Sometimes in life we get stuck and have a hard time taking the next step forward. This is when small goals can get us moving and going the right direction. We receive a small boost in self respect when the small short term goal is achieved and that motivates is to set another, maybe even slightly larger goal. Before you realize it you’re flying down the path to real achievement.